Turtle Mountain Conservation District (TMCD) was established on May 16, 1973 as the Turtle Mountain Resource Conservation District, officially becoming TMCD #4 under the Conservation Districts Act on January 1, 1978. And, as of January 1, 2020 it is now known as the Souris River Watershed District following amalgamation of Turtle Mountain and West Souris River Conservation Districts.
A special evening and delicious beef supper was held December 17, celebrating 47 years in conservation. Yasemin Keeler, TMCD Manager prepared a “years in review” presentation timeline and spoke to the history of the Conservation District since its inception:
• 1973 known as the Turtle Mountain Resource District involving the Rural Municipalities of Morton and Winchester and the Towns of Deloraine and Boissevain.
• 1978 – name changed to Turtle Mountain Conservation District
• 1986 – Portion of Municipality of Arthur joined (Waskada Creek and south to USA border)
- 1994 - Municipality of Killarney –Turtle Mountain and remainder of Municipality of Arthur joined program.
- 2003 - Municipality of Cameron joined program
- 2004 – Boundary Change: Souris River becomes external west boundary
- 2006 - East Souris River Integrated Watershed Management Plan approved
- 2011 – Pembina River Integrated Watershed Management Plan
• 2020 – known as Souris River Watershed District
Chairpersons through the years:
- Sid Ransom – 1965-74
- Mac Corbett – 1974-76
- Kennedy Cohoe – 1977-78
- Lloyd Bolduc – 1979-1987
- Dennis Crowe – 1988-1996
- Cliff Snyder – 1997 – 2003
- Richard Sexton – 2004-2012 (CD Builder Award recipient in 2015)
- Greg More – 2012-2019
- Harriet McColl – 1978-88
- Don Millar – 1989-2001
- Murray Combs – 2002-2015 (CD Builder Award recipient in 2017)
• Don Conick – 1975-77
• Bill Poole – 1977-1989 “Bill Poole was influential in promoting the soil and water conservation programs and goals for the TMCD and worked with many area landowners to deliver conservation related programs for the benefit of conservation. In Dec. 2001 Bill passed away at the age of 60. His love of the land, conservation ethic and his strong ties to the Turtle Mountain area resulted in a gracious donation of 120 acres of land along the western side of the Turtle Mountain. It was Bill’s wish that the land would be maintained to protect its natural characteristics and that walking public access be allowed on the property. The TMCD has been responsible for ensuring that those wishes be kept so the future generations can enjoy his generous gift”, said Keeler.
• Gary Davis – 1989-2001
• Sheldon Kowalchuk – 2001-2006
• Melanie Ganache – 2006 – 2007
• Andrea McLean – 2007-2010
• Yasemin Keeler – 2010-2019
• Bill Poole – 1977-? (Bill was also the administrator for a short time)
• Dorothy Keane - ? – 1986 (start date unknown)
• Sandra Hainsworth – 1986-2019 – the longest standing employee at 33 years.
“Sandra’s work ethic and devotion is a large part of TMCD’s successes over the years. Sandra’s knowledge of the CD program has assisted in the growth of TMCD and her dedication to her job and attention to detail cannot go unnoticed. TMCD has been very fortunate to have such an established, dedicated employee such as Sandra,” said Keeler.
A review of projects followed. “In the early years the focus was on erosion concerns within the Turtle Mountain, soil conservation and land management activities that included the planting of approximately 25,000 trees in an annual shelterbelt establishment program, that involves field and yardbelts as well as triple row and block plantings for wildlife habitat and enhancement. Complimentary programs in land management included no-till promotion in annual cropping systems, permanent cover seeding and assistance for producers in planned grazing systems and riparian protection”, said Keeler.
• 1985 – the first large water retention structure – Adair Dam was built (850 acre-foot volume). The purpose was for flood protection, erosion protection and wildlife enhancement.
Medora Creek Headwaters flood control structures. Medora Creek headwaters study was conducted in the late 1970s which identified 8 structures for flood protection and 2 were built.
• 1988 – L8 Dam
• 1990 – L6 Dam (dry dam, downstream flood protection)
• 1990 – Derksen-Heide Dam – 300 acre-feet of water storage. Purpose: water storage, domestic use, farm, wildlife habitat, recreation. Aeration unit installed in 2014 and was stocked with Northern Pike.
- 1990’s – The start of the small dam network in the Turtle Mountain and water retention focus within the District which consists of 72 structures that were built in Whitewater Lake Sub-District to date and 221 water retention total structures within the district.
• 1994 – Ramsay Dam – Waskada Creek – 55 acre- feet of water storage for erosion protection, water protection and wildlife habitat.
Project Highlights since 1999:
- 450 wells sealed
- 221 small dams (since 1985)
- 14 bank stabilizations
- 41 grassed waterways, 6 gully erosion
- 98 remote watering systems
- 84 Rotational Grazing projects
- 363 salinity seed projects
- 37 Conservation Agreements – MHHC – Turtle Mountain target area
- 26 Conservation Agreements – DUC – Medora -Whitewater Lake – Killarney target area
2019 Year in Review
Wakopa Creek Sub-District: Sealed 7 wells, 1 Water Retention structure was constructed utilizing sheet metal to reinforce spillway, Structure is used for livestock watering and peak flow reduction.
• Beaver control on Reimer backflood and Jersak dam
Upper Pembina Sub-District:Sealed two wells, Interpretive signage at Sweet grass meadow is in the works, P. Dyck Dam – partnership project with Pembina Valley CD.
Elgin Creek – Whitewater Lake Sub-District:2 Water retention structures repaired with one spillway reinforced with sheet metal piling, 4 wells sealed, 1 remote watering system to improve water quality and reduce nutrient loading in lake. Upper Elgin Creek study for peak flow reduction.
Medora Creek Sub-District: Sealed 2 wells, Riparian seeding, Stabilization, material for L6 Dam, livestock crossing.
Chain Lakes Sub District: Sealed wells, one grassed waterway; Engineering report for water retention structure.
Waskada Creek Sub District:Planning year for 2 water retention structures and 1 grassed waterway was completed.
Two summer students were hired to conduct a culvert inventory within member Municipalities – four Municipalities were completed, and one was started.
Education: TMCD sponsors the Oak Hammock Marsh Eco-Van where they attend schools within the District and provide watershed based activities to the students; Water Festival was held on September 18th at the Elgin Dam in partnership with Assiniboine Hills Conservation District where approx. 150 students in grade 5 and 6 attended from the following schools: Hartney, Deloraine, Souris, Glenboro and Newdale Colony. The Water Festival strives to engage and educate youth in the importance of healthy watershed through a variety of hands on activities.
2020 - The Boundary changes for the new Souris River Watershed District will be 7,650 sq. km. TMCD was 4500 sq. km. Effective January 1, 2020.
Presentation was made to Triple V Ranch - Dan and Alana & Matt Van Steelandt, recipients of the 2019 Conservation District Award for their conservation efforts.
Presentation was made to Gary Davis, recipient of the CD Staff Builder Award. He was manager of the TMCD for 12 years from 1989-2001. He thanked the district for the recognition and recalled some of the founders of the conservation movement in Manitoba. “It was an opportune time for me and a privilege to get to know these dedicated people — including Ted Poiyser who advocated conservation ethics and saving the land; Clint Whetter – pioneer of conservation farming; Sid Ransom – “who had a passion for the land and it sort of oozed into people when they talked to him. I can only hope to pass on that passion.”
Davis also said he was fortunate to have a dedicated board and staff. “I am very proud of TMCD programs and its history. The TMCD is a grand old district that is going to pass into the pages of history. Thanks to Chairman More, the board and staff for everything. – I wish you every success as the new era begins.”
Appreciation gifts were presented to the Board and Sub-District members for their years of service.
Chairperson Greg More gave some closing remarks, expressing appreciation to all who served through the 47 years. It is the end of an era and we feel encouraged going forward as part of the Souris River Watershed District. “Can you believe all the projects? We’ve done a lot and there is still a lot we can do as we move on to the 2020s as a new entity,” concluded More.